Christ the King
- 2 Samuel 23:1-7
- Psalm 132:1-13, (14-19)
- Revelation 1:4b-8
- John 18:33-37
Every year, on this last Sunday of Pentecost, we conclude one “year” by celebrating the Reign of Christ before we begin again to prepare for the birth of that Messiah. Some of the traditions associated with worship in the Episcopal Church have their origins in the royal court: for example, purple, the color for Advent (frequently) and Lent, was the color associated with royalty. This ideal of royalty became linked to the coming of Christ – a new king, ushering in God’s kingdom.
The earliest creed of the Church was “Jesus is Lord,” meaning that Jesus stands above all other earthly power and authority. All through history and into the present moment, choosing God above authority has cause persecution and conflict in the life of the Church. The congregation and wider church must witness always to the authority of Jesus Christ, realizing that there will be times when conflict will be the direct result of such a witness.
We hear this in today’s gospel: Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answers, “You say that I am king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Thus sets the stage for the violence to come upon the body of Jesus, the man from Nazareth.
But who is this king? The Old Testament reading describes the ideal king as one who keeps a covenant relationship with God. Today we hear the last words of King David, who is remembered as the greatest kings of Israel. Psalm 132 reflects the spirit of David’s last words on this covenant relationship.
The vision of John in Revelation shows an exalted Christ who proclaims Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega: the beginning, through whom all things were made, and the ending to whom all must come. In Christ, all of the ends and purposes of life and history are brought together.
The Risen Christ who has been dead now lives.
- What does language about royalty mean in our contemporary western democratic culture? How do you visualize as a king? Or is this difficult for you?
- Contrast the authority of Jesus with the authority represented in Pilate. What do you think Jesus means when he tells Pilate that “my kingdom is not from here?” (John 18:36)
- How do you define truth? How do you testify to the truth of Christ?
- What are the characteristics of the Kingdom of God?
- How do you witness to the authority of Christ in your life? in the world?